Opioid frustration and anger in Pike
MILFORD, PA — Pike Commissioners say the state response to the county’s opioid problem is insufficient and some officials’ inaccurate comments about the opioid overdose antidote, Narcan, are worse.
Emergency Management Director Tim Knapp reported on November 1 that the state has approved a new grant to provide Pike with 144 doses of Narcan, which Knapp said would be distributed to EMS and local law enforcement agencies through the county’s training center.
Commissioners’ Chair Matt Osterberg said Pike has had 23 opioid overdose deaths since 2016 and “we’re expecting more and more.” He said the number came from the Pike coroner, “but we have no hospital and no way of knowing how many others died in hospitals in surrounding counties.”
Narcan, he said, should not be this difficult to get. He chafed at the embarrassment of “having to ask a pharmacist for it, in public.”
“One hundred and forty-four doses for a county is pretty dismal,” Commissioner Steve Guccini said. “It’s based on reported overdoses and is skewed, as Matt mentioned. We’re trying to coordinate with other counties where there was treatment or death. It’s frustrating, but if it’s your son or daughter, you’re going to want to know,” he said.
Osterberg said his frustration was heightened by some unsubstantiated comments local, state and federal officials have given to the press, alleging that addicts at “Narcan parties” gathered and used drugs, while one of their number stood by with Narcan to act in case of an overdose.
He cited a July article (tinyurl.com/y7d7lymw) in an online publication, The Outline, in which the reporter sought documentation of allegations of Narcan parties made by a federal DEA investigator; a state representative; a state senator; the Lancaster County District Attorney; the police chief in Lansford Borough in Carbon County (misidentified as the Lancaster Police Chief in the story); EMS workers in Fayette County; and county sheriffs in Butler County, PA and Portage County, OH; in various documents and news stories.
Those giving seven of the attributions named in the story were contacted. None of the four who responded to queries were able to document their earlier allegations, according to the story.
Osterberg was infuriated by those “important officials,” calling Narcan “a crutch… There’s no evidence. It’s the last thing an addict would think of. I can’t understand the logic of these Neanderthal officials making these comments,” he said.
In other business, the commissioners noted that the substance-abuse awareness group HOPE4 Pike is hosting motivational speaker Tony Hoffman at a 7 p.m. on a November 13 program at the Delaware Valley High School Auditorium, and approved the proclamation of November 10 as Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Day.